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Burns are a common cause of preventable injury and some 20 000 children under the age of 4 years are hospitalized each year in the US. Scalding burns are the most common burn injury and these burns so often occur when toddlers knock over cups of hot liquid or grab the handles of pots cooking on the stove. Household appliances are another common source of burns in toddlers. Babies and toddlers are curious, small and have sensitive skin that needs extra protection. Sadly, most burns could be prevented.
We need to understand the common causes of burns in children so that we can take steps to make sure it does not happen:
Scalds (e.g. steam, hot bath water, tipped-over coffee cups, pots of cooking fluids)
Contact with flames or hot objects (e.g. from the stove, fireplace, curling iron)
Chemical burns (e.g. from swallowing drain cleaner, watch batteries or spilling chemicals such as bleach on to the skin)
Electrical burns (e.g. from biting on electrical cords, sticking fingers or objects into electrical outlets)
Overexposure to the sun (sun burn)
If your toddler has a minor burn, remove him from the source of the burn, and soak the area in cool water for about 15 minutes by placing under running tap water or by covering with a cold, wet towel. Do not put ice, butter or any ointments on the burn and never break any blisters that may form. It is important to cool the area down because otherwise this same area keeps on burning. A natural burn treatment can speed up the healing time of a fresh mild burn, but it is important to consult your physician in the case where the burn is not a mild one.
All other burns need immediate emergency medical attention.
These are the different degrees of burns:
A first degree burn is limited to the outer layer of the skin so that it is dry, red and painful but without blistering. Mild to moderate sunburn is an example of a first degree burn.
A second degree burn involves blistering of the skin and is also painful. The affected skin will often appear to be moist.
A third degree burn is where all the skin layers have been penetrated and the nerve endings destroyed so that pain may not be felt.
A fourth degree burn extends down to muscle and/or bone.
Apart from emergency medical care, serious burns often require hospitalization and even surgery and skin grafting. If you are not happy with the progress of the healing process, you may want to see a burn specialist for further advice.